The MTV Video Music Awards were big for Taylor Swift this year — but she was nowhere in sight.
The pop star skipped Sunday’s VMAs, which was hosted by her friend-turned-foe Katy Perry. With the show including Swift’s debut of her self-referential music video for “Look What You Made Me Do” and the star receiving a nomination for Best Collaboration with Zayn Malik for “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker), rumors and reports on Sunday began indicating that it was likely Swift would appear at the show.
But that didn’t happen. Soon after Swift and Malik’s names were called as winners of the Best Collaboration award, the song’s co-writers Jack Antonoff and Sam Dew took to the stage to accept the Moon Person trophy on Swift’s behalf. (A rep for Swift did not comment on Swift’s decision to skip the show.)
As the show closed, Perry performed her song “Swish Swish,” a track that is purportedly a push-back against Swift. But Perry made no mention of Swift during the performance or the broadcast as a whole.
Swift and Perry have battled for years, but Perry was the first to wave her white flag, signaling a potential end to the hostile relations earlier this year. “I forgive her and I’m sorry for anything I ever did, and I hope the same from her,” Perry told Arianna Huffington in The Thrive Global Podcast.
Before that olive branch, the “Firework” singer in May explained to James Corden on the Late Late Show how the pop star strife sparked before Swift’s Red tour and Perry’s Prism tour partly overlapped in 2014. “Okay, so there are three backing dancers that went on tour with her tour, right? And they asked me before they went on tour if they could go, and I was like, ‘Yeah, of course. I’m not on a record cycle and get the work, and she’s great and all that. But I will be on a record cycle probably in about a year. So be sure to put a 30-day contingency in your contract so you can get out if you want to join me when I say I’m going back on,’” Perry shared. “That year came up, right? And I texted all of them because I’m very close with them and I said, ‘Look, just FYI, I’m about to start. I want to put the word out there. They said, ‘Okay, we’re going to go and talk to management about it.’ And they did, and they got fired.”
She continued: “But what I want to say is that I’m ready for that BS to be done. Now, there is the law of cause and effect. You do something, there’s going to be a reaction, and trust me, daddy, there’s going to be a reaction. It’s all about karma, right? I think personally that women together — not divided, and none of this petty bulls— — women together will heal the world.”
Swift first alluded to the feud while discussing her diss track “Bad Blood” in a September 2014 interview with Rolling Stone. “For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not,” Swift said of an unnamed fellow singer. “She would come up to me at awards shows and say something and walk away, and I would think, ‘Are we friends, or did she just give me the harshest insult of my life?'”
As Swift explained, she felt her peer was trying to “sabotage” her tour. “She did something so horrible,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh, we’re just straight-up enemies.’ And it wasn’t even about a guy! It had to do with business. She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me. And I’m surprisingly non-confrontational — you would not believe how much I hate conflict. So now I have to avoid her. It’s awkward, and I don’t like it.”
It wasn’t always that way, though: Swift and Perry used to pose for photos at awards shows together and tweet at each other on social media.